Monday 16 September 2019

'I don't understand what a media watchdog is' - Brian Kerr hits out at FAI over 'Soviet era' approach

Former Ireland Soccer manager Brian Kerr. Photo: Collins
Former Ireland Soccer manager Brian Kerr. Photo: Collins
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

A fresh war of words has broken out between the FAI and Brian Kerr after the former Ireland manager claimed that interim Abbotstown boss Noel Mooney made a "Soviet era"-style approach to get him back on side.

Kerr hasn't worked for the FAI since leaving the senior job at the end of 2005. The long-term critic of ex-CEO John Delaney said yesterday that attempts have been made recently to integrate him back into the fold.

He turned down an invite from the commercial department to attend the European U-17 finals and also received a call from tournament ambassador John O'Shea who said that an FAI staff member had asked him to phone on their behalf.

Kerr declined, as he does not believe reforms of the FAI have gone far enough and he believes apologies are due to several employees who departed in the past decade.

He said he received a fresh approach from Mooney via email after a meeting at a St Patrick's Athletic match. Kerr described the correspondence as baffling. "He suggested I may have a role being a media watchdog in the future. For the FAI," he said.

"I replied by saying that I don't understand what a media watchdog is but it sounds like something from the Soviet era and I'd appreciate if you didn't contact me any more in relation to the FAI.

"I don't really care if it's public or private but he suggested that Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley had found common ground so maybe myself…(and the FAI could)."

An FAI spokesman last night issued a response to Kerr's comments, stating: "The FAI can confirm that General Manager Noel Mooney recently made contact with Brian Kerr - after they had met briefly at a League of Ireland game - in an effort to bring Brian back into the football family .

"The GM contacted Brian, by email, offering to meet for a coffee to 'understand your views on how Irish football can perform better'.

"We are disappointed that these emails have made their way into the public domain.

"However, the Association is receptive to Brian Kerr being involved in its key objective of the promotion and development of football in Ireland.

Kerr - who was speaking at the launch of Virgin Media's Champions League coverage - is cool on the idea of involvement in the FAI's current structure.

He is of the opinion that president Donal Conway and board member John Earley should not be a part of the new interim board after a period of turmoil for the Association.

Regime

"I think they took advantage of the line in the (governance) report that suggested that it might be helpful to have someone (stay) on," said Kerr.

"He (Conway) had his chance. He was part of a regime that stood over the decision-making of the CEO and the style of the CEO and the ethos that was there. There are a lot of good people doing work in the FAI and with the teams. There's probably no role for me there now anyway.

"But a significant thing is how a number of people (who left the FAI) were treated over a period of time and the attitude towards them. They were blackballed.

"Some of the board may claim they were not aware of that. But they shouldn't have spent so much time sitting on the planes with their blazers on, they should have went around the game and tried to talk some of the people.

"Then they would have found out. Ignorance is not a good enough claim."

Niall Quinn has confirmed that he will not be going forward for one of the four independent places that is still to be faced on the 12-person board. He has also been critical of the recruitment process, believing a 6 v 6 balance of FAI elected candidates and independent voices would have been preferable.

He is still open to providing help for the future of the League of Ireland, and is heartened that clubs have come together to fight their case.

"We think the optics of the old guard clinging onto power outweighs any advantage in going in at this point," said Quinn, explaining why neither he nor his business associates would be applying for an independent seat.

Irish Independent

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